How To Reverse The Effects Of Type 2 Diabetes

Two new studies show how moderate exercise can:

  • Counteract the effects of overeating,
  • Reduce abnormal intra-muscular fat,
  • Reduce the production of fat by-products
  • Improve insulin sensitivity,
  • Increase fat burning
  • Reduce Fatty Liver by up to 40%, helping to prevent:
  • Cirrhosis of the liver,
  • Liver failure
  • Liver transplantation
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes related heart disease




University of Michigan researchers studied five obese women over three separate two-day trials.

During these trials, the women alternated between:

  1. Consuming a weight maintenance diet (Control diet)
  2. Eating a diet 700 calories above maintenance
  3. Eating a diet 700 calories above maintenance, but then burning off those 700 calories through exercise.


The morning after the trial, the researchers tested the women and found that:

  • overeating suppressed fat burning.
  • exercising increased fat burning.
  • Exercise increased insulin sensitivity.
  • Exercise reduced fat by-products in the muscle


This study shows that even a single bout of exercise helps obese individuals increase their body’s fat-burning rate and improve their metabolic health.”

MRI scans of an obese subject with Metabolic Syndrome and a normal weight subject




Johns Hopkins researchers studied seventy-seven diabetic men and women over a six month period.

During the study, half of the study participants were put through a moderate program of aerobic exercise consisting of 45-minute sessions three times a week.

They could bicycle, run on a treadmill or take brisk walks.

In addition, they lifted weights for about 20 minutes, three times a week,  at a moderate intensity.

The other half of the participants were asked to avoid any formal aerobic fitness or gym classes.


  • MRI scans taken at the start and end of the study showed much lower levels of liver fat in the active group (5.6%), while levels remained the same in the non-exercising group (8.5%).
  • The cardio-vascular systems of the exercisers were 13% more efficient than the non-exercisers.
  • The exercisers were 7% stronger than the non-exercisers.
  • The exercisers had 6% less body-fat than the non-exercisers
  • The exercisers also lost weight and reduced their waistlines by an average of 2 inches.


According to the lead investigator, Kerry Stewart, Ed.D., “The benefits in improved fitness and fatness are clear, and physicians should really have all people with type 2 diabetes actively engaged in an exercise program.”

Stewart says his team’s next steps are to analyze the long-term effect of moderate exercise on diabetes and heart disease, including any improvements in heart and blood vessel structure and function, insulin resistance and arterial inflammation.


My Conclusion


How many more studies do we need, before we realize that if you want to be healthy, you NEED to exercise.



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For more info on these studies, check out ScienceDaily’s coverage here and here.


  1. No kidding. Don’t know why we (most people) can’t quite grasp that. Exercise is good and, like you said, necessary. Great post.

  2. Great post! As always, fascinating stuff.

    I can’t stop looking at those x-ray pictures.

    First, look at how much compacted fecal matter the obese person has.
    Second, check out the bones in the legs compared to the non-0bese person! The femur and tibia are clearly distorted at the hips and at the ankles.

    I guess it’s possible that person is bow-legged, but I’m sure being obese doesn’t help that.

  3. Do you have the references for these articles? I’m interested in knowing the composition of the diets in the first study. And, why they only followed them for two days. As for the second study, you didn’t mention anything about diet in the intervention. Was diet part of it? A 2-inch reduction in waist size is pretty remarkable, even in 6 months, if they don’t change their diet.


  4. I suppose the trick for most people isn’t that they don’t know they need to exercise, it’s that they cannot figure out how to make the time to exercise.

    Modern life and all that.

    The truely sad thing is that we value our work or company above our own health.

  5. Brian,

    Neither study has been published yet.

    The researchers associated with Study # 1 presented their findings at a meeting sponsored by the American Physiological Society. The conference, The Integrative Biology of Exercise V, will be held September 24-27, 2008 in Hilton Head, SC.

    The researchers associated with Study # 2 presented their findings on Sept. 18 at the annual meeting of the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation, in Indianapolis

    The weight loss in that group was pretty significant.

    There was no mention of diet or how obese the participants were to begin with.

    If I had to guess at a reason for the change, I would look at the effect exercise has on insulin sensitivity and the associated lifestyle changes that the exercisers may have made.

    Thanks for dropping by and commenting

  6. Excellent studies. It’s difficult to overstate the benefits of physical activity, combined with healthy eating habits.

    In the dental field, Case Western researchers have even associated exercise with reduced risk of gum disease which, in turn, avoids an increased risk of developing diabetes.

    Thanks for pointing out this new work.

  7. Doc Martin,

    That is an interesting link between exercise and gum disease.

    I knew that there was a link between gum disease, inflammation and a whole host of chronic conditions.

    Would you have a link to that info. I would be curious to see the research.

    Alternately, as you probably know much more about the subject than I do, perhaps I could convince you to do a guest post???

  8. Thanks for your interest in the links between exercise and gum disease. Here’s the reference citation for the Case Western study I mentioned:

    Al-Zahrani MS, Borawski EA, Bissada NF, Increased physical activity reduces prevalence of periodontitis, Journal of Dentistry (2005) 33, 703-710

    I believe you can find it online through library databases or at

    The investigators examined cross-sectional data from more than 2500 respondents in the third National Health And Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III). The sample included only those whose level of activity or inactivity indicated a stable long-term pattern, at least 10 years. About 16 percent of the total sample had gum disease. Among inactive individuals, prevalence was 25 percent. Among those who met recommended levels of exercise it was 13 percent, nearly half the rate of the inactives.

    NHANES III defined recommended levels of physical activity as moderately intense physical activity five or more times a week or vigorous exercise at least three times a week.

    The researchers concluded that a possible pathway for protection against gum disease may be due to increased insulin sensitivity as a result of physical activity and preventing a progression to type 2 diabetes, a significant risk factor for gum disease. They suggested that muscle contraction during exercise may work synergistically with insulin to enhance cell uptake of glucose.

    Another mechanism they suggested is reduced inflammation, another significant contributor to the onset of gum disease. They pointed to several studies, including an analysis of the NHANES III data, showing an inverse relationship between exercise and C-reactive protein level, an inflammation marker. That may be a function of improved blood flow and greater efficiency in oxygen exchange as a result of exercise.

    Two other potential contributing factors they cited were the potential for physical activity to reduce risk of both obesity and stress, each of which has been associated with higher prevalence of gum disease.

    They concluded with an observation that all dentists should encourage patients to get the recommended level of exercise to improve their general health as well as minimize risk of gum disease. In my book, that’s a gimme.

    Thanks again for the opportunity to submit a guest post. Obviously, it’s a fascinating topic for me and I hope your readers find it interesting as well. I write about various aspects of gum disease and diabetes on my blog – – and in my column on I spend a great deal of time on the inflammation cascade, which is one of the key links in the two-way relationship between diabetes and gum disease.

  9. Not sure. I did a quick search and found nothing except this.

    I will try and contact the researchers. If I am successful I will post a link to the study (and email you as well)


    The research is still ongoing. We will update when the research is completed.

    And if anyone out there in the U of Michigan area is interested in advancing the research into obesity, contact Andrea Cornford at

  10. I am working on a documentary film about the Diabetes epidemic in South Texas. What we are uncovering is nothing short of a public health crisis. 8 year olds developing Type II diabetes due to obesity and inactivity. 80% of the population either over weight or obese along the Texas/Mexico border.

  11. I use to think that only minorities as Native Americans and Mexican Americans had immediate contact with diabetes. After manageing schools and sports programs,  I know now that everybody needs daily exercise.
    Diabetes knows no color or gender, our body reacts to the high fat/sugar content in the blood and this casues a malfunction in the insulin process.
    There is some discussion that stress as in emotional stress casues depression  which inturn speeds up the metabolic system. I welcome comments and observation from others

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